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2023 Centennial Cup Preview

It all started back in September with approximately 120 teams competing across nine different leagues. There were early season showcase tournaments, late roster cutdowns, holiday breaks and grueling regular seasons of between 48 and 60 games. That was just to determine which teams would survive and compete for league championships.

Then the fun really began.

Once the postseason got underway – as far back as early March for some teams – to achieve the ultimate goal of capturing a league title and advancing to the Centennial Cup Jr. A national-championship tournament, teams had to play and win three or four best-of-seven series and potentially endure more than an additional 20 grueling, physical, emotionally charged playoff games.

Now, after eight months, the roller-coaster ride is almost complete.

After a couple hundred practices; countless bumps, bruises, highs, lows, twists and turns; and as many as 76 games, only 10 teams remain. And on May 11, those 10 teams will begin one final journey together in hopes of earning something every Canadian Jr. A hockey player covets: the Centennial Cup and the right to be called a national champion.

The puck drops on the 2023 Centennial Cup at Stride Place in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, at 12:30 p.m. EDT May 11 when the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL)-champion Kam River Fighting Walleye take on the Battlefords Stars, champions of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey league (SJHL). That will be the first of three games on opening day and 20 total preliminary-round matchups that will determine which eight teams will advance to play in the quarterfinals May 19.

Then, after nearly nine months of hockey, by May 21 the Canadian Jr. Hockey League (CJHL) national champion will be crowned. Just like that, the season will be over and everyone will go their separate ways.

The CJHL is comprised of nine leagues covering the entire country. The leagues included in the CJHL are: 

The British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) parted ways with the CJHL two years ago. The nine CJHL league champions, along with the host Portage Terriers (MJHL), will compete for the Centennial Cup.

CLICK HERE for the Centennial Cup schedule.

CLICK HERE for Centennial Cup bracket.

All Centennial Cup games can be viewed live via webstream by CLICKING HERE.

Here are the nine teams that won their league championships and advanced to the Centennial Cup along with the host Portage Terriers:

  • Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
  • Steinbach Pistons (MJHL)
  • Battlefords North Stars (SJHL)
  • Timmins Rock (NOJHL)
  • Collingwood Blues (OJHL)
  • Terrebonne Cobras (LHJAAAQ)
  • Yarmouth Mariners (MHL)
  • Kam River Fighting Walleye (SIJHL)
  • Ottawa Jr. Senators (CCHL)
  • Portage Terriers (host – MJHL)


The 10 competing teams are split into two five-team pools. Group A includes Terrebonne, Yarmouth, Brooks, Timmins and Ottawa. Group B is comprised of Portage, Collingwood, Battlefords, Steinbach and Kam River. Each team will play every other team in its group, with the top three from each pool advancing to the playoffs. The top seeds from each group receive a bye into the semifinals. The quarterfinals will be played May 19, followed by the semifinals May 20 and the finals May 21.

There is no rest for the weary.

Here is a quick look at the Centennial Cup field and their road to Portage:


Brooks Bandits (AJHL)

The Bandits are the two-time defending national champs and are looking to become the first team ever to win three-straight titles in the 50-year history of the Centennial Cup. Brooks has had another dominant year, going 53-5-1 during the regular season to tie for the second-most victories in league history. From there it took them just 15 games to roll to the AJHL title and advance to Portage. Aiden Fink led the team and the league in scoring with 97 points, including 41 goals. The Bandits scored a league-best 319 goals while allowing just 113. Ethan Barwick backstopped a stout defense, going 45-4-1 between the pipes with a .929 save percentage and a 1.88 goals-against average. Nine players return from last year’s national-championship team.


Here is how they advanced to the Centennial Cup (courtesy of Hockey Canada):

AJHL Playoffs
Quarterfinals: defeated Okotoks 4-2 (3-2, 2-3, 5-2, 2-3, 4-2, 3-1)
Semifinals: defeated Blackfalds 4-0 (5-0, 4-2, 5-3, 4-2)
AJHL Championship: defeated Spruce Grove 4-1 (5-2, 3-6, 2-1, 2-1 OT, 3-2 OT)



Record (W-L-OTL-SOL): 53-5-1-1 (1st in AJHL)
Goals for: 319 (1st in AJHL)
Goals against: 113 (1st in AJHL)
Power play: 105 for 305 (34.4% – 1st in AJHL)
Penalty killing: 225 of 253 (88.9% – 7th in AJHL)
Longest winning streak: 18 (Oct. 22-Dec. 3)

Top 3 scorers:
• Aiden Fink – 41G 56A 97P (1st in AJHL)
• Dario Beljo – 34G 55A 89P (4th in AJHL)
• Sam Court – 13G 59A 72P (10th in AJHL)


Steinbach Pistons (MJHL)

It took the Pistons 18 games to get through the MJHL Playoffs, but their first trip to the Centennial Cup since 2018 was well worth the grind. Steinback went 42-15-0 during the regular season, but finished five points behind the Portage Terriers in the race for first place. Travis Hensrud led the team in scoring with 35-37-72, while Ian Amsbaugh and Ty Paisley each contributed more than 50 points. Dominik Wasik was strong in goal, posting a 25-9 record with a .924 save percentage and 2.22 goals-against average. It took Steinbach seven games to knock off the Winkler Flyers in the opening round of the playoffs and another six contests to take out the Swan Valley Sampeders in the semifinals. That made Steinbach’s five-game finals victory against the Virden Oil Capitals see easy by comparison. Ty Paisley had 11 goals and 18 assists to lead the offensive attack in the postseason, with Wasik recording four shutouts. ‘


Here is how they advanced to the Centennial Cup (courtesy of Hockey Canada):

MJHL Playoffs
Quarterfinals: defeated Winkler 4-3 (4-5 OT, 3-2, 3-1, 3-7, 1-3, 4-2)
Semifinals: defeated Swan Valley 4-2 (5-4 2OT, 5-1, 3-2 2OT, 3-4 2OT, 2-3, 3-2)
MJHL Championship: defeated Virden 4-1 (4-0, 3-0, 3-6, 5-3, 3-0)



Record (W-L-OTL-SOL): 42-15-0-1 (2nd in MJHL)
Goals for: 227 (2nd in MJHL)
Goals against: 139 (2nd in MJHL)
Power play: 58 for 241 (24.1% – 1st in MJHL)
Penalty killing: 197 of 243 (81.1% – 5th in MJHL)
Longest winning streak: 8 (Nov. 12-Dec. 6)

Top 3 scorers:
• Travis Hensrud – 35G 37A 72P (3rd in MJHL)
• Ian Amsbaugh – 21G 37A 58P (12th in MJHL)
• Ty Paisley – 21G 35A 56P (17th in MJHL)


Battlefords North Stars (SJHL)

Battlefords captured its first SJHL championship since 2019 after rolling through the postseason with 12 wins in 13 games and setting franchise records for points in a season with 99 and winning percentage (.884). The North Stars also tied the club record for most victories in a season with 48. Battlefords opened the year with a remarkable 33-0-2-1 stretch and finished at 48-5-2-1, allowing just 138 goals and converting 24.8 percent of their power-play chances in the process. The league’s top-four scorers played for Battlefords, with Kian Bell’s 54-48-102 leading the way. Bell is the first North Star to score more than 50 goals in 32 years. Goaltender Josh Kotal posted a 2.39 goals-against average and .935 save percentage while allowing just 92 goals in 329 appearances.


Here is how they advanced to the Centennial Cup (courtesy of Hockey Canada):

SJHL PLayoffs
Quarterfinal: defeated Weyburn 4-1 (2-3, 5-2, 3-0, 6-1, 7-4)
Semifinal: defeated Melfort 4-0 (5-2, 7-1, 1-0 2OT, 5-2)
SJHL championship: defeated Flin Flon 4-0 (5-2, 3-0, 6-2, 7-4)



Record (W-L-OTL-SOL): 48-5-2-1 (1st in SJHL)
Goals for: 284 (1st in SJHL)
Goals against: 138 (1st in SJHL)
Power play: 61 for 246 (24.8% – 3rd in SJHL)
Penalty killing: 174 of 217 (80.2% – 6th in SJHL)
Longest winning streak: 16 (Nov. 12-Jan. 13)

Top 3 scorers:
• Kian Bell – 51G 54A 102P (1st in SJHL)
• Holden Doell –33G 67A 100P (2nd in SJHL)
• Jake Southgate – 25G 57A 82P (3rd in SJHL)


Timmins Rock (NOJHL)

Timmins needed just nine games to work its way into the NOJHL championship series, where the Rock defeated the Soo Thunderbirds in six contests to advance to the Centennial Cup and capture the Copeland-McNamara Trophy. The Rock concluded the regular season with a record of 48-8-3-2 to finish first in the league standings. Nicolas Pigeon and Brady Harroun combined for more than 200 points, with Pigeon dishing out 81 assists and Harroun potting 50 goals. Patrick Boivin was 27-7-2-0 in goal with a 1.98 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. He was backed up admirably by Jacob Brown, who posted a record of 18-1-1-2 and a 1.49 GAA.


Here is how they advanced to the Centennial Cup (courtesy of Hockey Canada):

NOJHL Playoffs
Quarterfinal: defeated French River 4-1 (8-2, 7-0, 3-4 OT, 4-1, 4-3)
Semifinal: defeated Powassan 4-0 (4-3, 5-0, 5-2, 5-3)
NOJHL championship: defeated Soo Thunderbirds 4-2 (4-0, 0-4, 1-4, 7-4, 3-2, 4-2)



Record (W-L-OTL-SOL): 48-8-3-2 (1st in NOJHL)
Goals for: 273 (2nd in NOJHL)
Goals against: 111 (1st in NOJHL)
Power play: 76 of 276 (27.5% – 1st in NOJHL)
Penalty killing: 164 of 194 (84.5% – 2nd in NOJHL)
Longest winning streak: 12 (Jan. 13-Feb. 18)

Top 3 scorers:
• Nicolas Pigeon – 26G 81A 107P (1st in NOJHL)
• Brady Harroun – 50G 46A 96P (2nd in NOJHL)
• Kenyon Nyman – 11G 49A 60P (14th in NOJHL)


Collingwood Blues (OJHL)

Led by a stout defense that surrendered just 138 goals in 72 games including the regular season and playoffs, Collingwood earned its first OJHL championship and a trip to Manitoba for the Centennial Cup. The Blues combined that defensive effort with a balanced offensive attack that didn’t place a single player among the league’s top 10 in scoring to post a 44-9-0-1 regular-season record. After finishing second overall in the league standings, Collingwood went a remarkable 16-2 in the playoffs to secure the league crown. Noah Pak backstopped the league’s top defense, leading the OJHL in wins during the regular season before starting all 18 postseason contests and going 16-2 with a 1,37 GAA and a .947 save percentage. Bryce Sutherland (69 points) and Cam Garvey (64 points) paced the offense during the regular season.


Here is how they advanced to the Centennial Cup (courtesy of Hockey Canada):

OJHL Playoffs
Preliminary round: defeated Stouffville 4-0 (6-1, 5-3, 7-0, 4-1)
Quarterfinal: defeated Milton 4-0 (6-1, 4-2, 5-1, 4-1)
Semifinal: defeated Burlington 4-1 (6-4, 5-2, 0-2, 2-1, 3-0)
OJHL championship: defeated Trenton 4-1 (2-0, 5-1, 1-2, 3-2, 2-1)



Record (W-L-OTL-SOL): 44-9-0-1 (2nd in OJHL)
Goals for: 226 (6th in OJHL)
Goals against: 113 (2nd in OJHL)
Power play: 48 for 237 (20.2% – 6th in OJHL)
Penalty killing: 199 of 229 (86.9% – 5th in OJHL)
Longest winning streak: 10 (Mach 10-April 7)

Top 3 scorers:
• Bryce Sutherland – 32G 37A 69P (T-17th in OJHL)
• Cam Garvey – 38G 26A 64P (22nd in OJHL)
• Ikki Kogawa – 21G 27A 48P (T-55th in OJHL)


Terrebonne Cobras (LHJAAAQ)

Terrebonne makes its first Centennial Cup appearance since 2017 after going 42-6-0 in the LHJAAAQ regular season to finish first by 18 standings points. Their formula wasn’t a tricky one. The Cobras led the league in goals with 287 and allowed the fewest goals against (109) while icing a deadly power play that connected nearly 40 percent of the time. Six players recorded more than 50 points, led by Steven Fournier’s 86 and Anthony Di Cesare’s 81 – the league’s top-two totals. Alexandre Marchand was a rock in goal, going a remarkable 30-1-0-1 with a league-leading 2.08 GAA and .929 save percentage. Terrebonne appeared to be poised to roll through the postseason, too, after winning the quarterfinal and semifinal series in a total of just nine games, but they were pushed to the brink in the finals before knocking off Cegep Beauce-Appalaches in seven games.


Here is how they advanced to the Centennial Cup (courtesy of Hockey Canada):

LHJAAAQ Playoffs
Quarterfinal: defeated Joliette 4-0 (3-2 OT, 2-1 OT, 7-2, 3-2)
Semifinal: defeated Princeville 4-1 (4-0, 3-1, 3-4 OT, 7-3, 3-0)
LHJAAAQ championship: defeated Beauce-Appalaches 4-3 (7-3, 2-4, 6-1, 4-3 OT, 3-2, 6-2)



Record (W-L-OTL-SOL): 42-5-1-0 (1st in LHJAAAQ)
Goals for: 287 (1st in LHJAAAQ)
Goals against: 109 (1st in LHJAAAQ)
Power play: 80 of 216 (37% – 1st in LHJAAAQ)
Penalty killing: 199 of 229 (86.9% – 1st in LHJAAAQ)
Longest winning streak: 19 (Oct. 28-Jan. 8)

Top 3 scorers:
• Steven Fournier – 36G 50A 86P (1st in LHJAAAQ)
• Anthony Di Cesare – 30G 51A 81P (2nd in LHJAAAQ)
• Loïc Gibeault – 30G 40A 70P (8th in LHJAAAQ)


Yarmouth Mariners (MHL)

One of the first teams to qualify for the Centennial Cup, the Mariners swept their way through the MHL Playoffs with a perfect 12-0 record after an impressive 41-9-2-0 regular season. Yarmouth split their first eight games of the year, so after that they were 37-5-2-0, and they lost just four times in the final 48 contests. The playoff sweep gave the Mariners their first league title since 2019. Yarmouth outscored its opponents, 58-24, in the postseason, with nine players scoring more than 10 points in the 12 games. Reilly Mayne and Ryan Semple led the playoff scoring with 18 points each, while goalie Joey Lovullo posted a 1.80 GAA and .939 save percentage in 10 appearances o earn MVP honors.


Here is how they advanced to the Centennial Cup (courtesy of Hockey Canada):

MHL Playoffs
Quarterfinal: defeated Pictou County 4-0 (6-0, 5-3, 5-3, 5-4 OT)
Semifinal: defeated Truro 4-0 (7-1, 5-0, 4-2, 5-2)
MHL championship: defeated Edmundston 4-0 (1-0, 7-5, 3-2, 5-1)



Record (W-L-OTL-SOL): 41-9-2-0 (1st in MHL)
Goals for: 230 (3rd in MHL)
Goals against: 132 (1st in MHL)
Power play: 50 for 204 (24.5% – 5th in MHL)
Penalty killing: 185 of 215 (86% – 7th in MHL)
Longest winning streak: 12 (Dec. 10-Feb. 2)

Top 3 scorers:
• Nathan Kelly – 23G 48A 71P (11th in MHL)
• Reilly Mayne – 29G 37A 66P (19th in MHL)
• Ryan Semple – 25G 39A 59P (22nd in MHL)


Kam River Fighting Walleye (SIJHL)

After racing through the SIJHL regular season to the tune of a sparkling 40-11-1-1 record to earn a bye into the league semifinals, the Walleye found themselves down two games to none against the Thunder Bay North Stars in the league finals after beating the Wisconsin Lumberjacks in five games to get there. Not only would Kam River have to come back, but they would need to do it on the road. The Walleye did in fact rally for a 5-2 victory in Game 3 and a double-overtime win in Game 4 to even the series. They split the next two games but claimed a thrilling 5-4 victory at home in Game 7 to earn their first trip to the Centennial Cup. Goalie Eric Vanska led the league with 27 wins, while Jeremy Dunmore, Ethan Lang and Jack Cook each recorded more than 50 points. Defenseman Max Leduc potted 18 goals from the blue line and dished out 27 assists.


Here is how they advanced to the Centennial Cup (courtesy of Hockey Canada):

SIJHL Playoffs
Semifinal: defeated Wisconsin 4-1 (10-2, 4-2, 10-2, 2-3 OT, 4-1)
NOJHL championship: defeated Thunder Bay 4-3 (3-4, 2-3 OT, 5-2, 6-5 2OT, 4-3, 2-6, 5-4)



Record (W-L-OTL-SOL): 4011-1-1 (1st in SIJHL)
Goals for: 225 (2nd in SIJHL)
Goals against: 143 (1st in SIJHL)
Power play: 47 of 225 (20.9% –2nd in SIJHL)
Penalty killing: 229 of 266 (86.1% – 2nd in SIJHL)
Longest winning streak: 10 (Jan. 27-Feb. 18)

Top 3 scorers:
• Jeremy Dunmore – 19G 38A 58P (T-2nd in SIJHL)
• Ethan Lang – 18G 36A 54P (T-4th in SIJHL)
• Jack Cook – 21G 29A 50P (T-6th in SIJHL)


Ottawa Jr. Senators (CCHL)
One of two qualifiers that needed to win a Game 7 to advance to Nationals, Ottawa got the job done in the finale against Smiths Falls to earn a Centennial Cup berth for the fourth straight year. With seven players returning from last year’s Centennial Cup club, the Senators topped the CCHL regular-season standings with a 42-8-5 record. According to the numbers, they were the league’s top defensive team, allowing the fewest goals, and ranked second in goals scored. Their special-teams units also were among the league’s top two. Vincent Velocci led the Sens in scoring and ranked 11th in the CCHL with 59 points. Three players eclipsed the 50-point mark, with six scoring 40 points or better and 11 players notching double-digit goals. Rock Applebee and Connor Shibley split goaltending duties, with Applebee recording a 2.07 GAA and .934 save percentage compared to Shibley’s 2.16 GAA and .926 save percentage. Together they allowed just 126 goals.


Here is how they advanced to the Centennial Cup (courtesy of Hockey Canada):

CCHL Playoffs
Quarterfinal: defeated Cornwall 4-1 (3-0, 5-2, 3-4 OT, 5-0, 5-2)
Semifinal: defeated Brockville 4-1 (4-0, 0-3, 3-1, 4-3 OT, 3-2)
CCHL championship: defeated Smiths Falls 4-3 (2-5, 0-1 OT, 7-1, 7-4, 3-2 OT, 6-2)



Record (W-L-OTL-SOL): 42-8-3-2 (1st in CCHL)
Goals for: 218 (2nd in CCHL)
Goals against: 126 (1st in CCHL)
Power play: 56 of 221 (25.3% – 1st in CCHL)
Penalty killing: 207 of 238 (87.5% – 2nd in CCHL)
Longest winning streak: 13 (Nov. 9-Dec. 17)

Top 3 scorers:
• Vincent Velocci – 16G 43A 59P (11th in CCHL)
• Massimo Gentile – 30G 26A 56P (13th in CCHL)
• Anton Sorensen – 18G 36A 54P (15th in CCHL)


Portage Terriers (Host – MJHL)

Sometimes when tournaments such as the Centennial Cup have a host team, the other teams chalk that opponent up as an automatic win. If anyone does that this year, they’re likely to be looking a big L instead. The Terriers hosted the tournament in 2015 and went home with all the championship hardware, and this year’s team finished first in the MJHL regular-season standings, five points ahead of the league-champion Steinbach Pistons, with a record of 43-11-1-3. Portage led the MJHL in goals with 249, had the league’s highest-scoring power play and boated the top penalty-killing unit. On top of that, they were fourth in goals against with 163 goals allowed in 58 games. Ryan Botterill led the league with 45 goals and was second with 73 points. Two Terrier blueliners – Hayden Lacquette and Brandon McCartney – were the league’s two highest-scoring defensemen with 54 points apiece. In goal, Bailey Monteith was 23-7-1 with a 2.64 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage, while Jayden Catellier was 19-4-0 with a 2.71 GAA and a .901 save percentage.


Here is how they advanced to the Centennial Cup (courtesy of Hockey Canada):

MJHL Playoffs
Quarterfinal: defeated Niverville 4-1 (5-4, 5-2, 4-5, 3-1, 5-1)
Semifinal: lost to Virden 4-3 (3-4 2OT, 1-5, 4-2, 3-0, 2-4, 7-1, 2-3 2OT)



Record (W-L-OTL-SOL): 43-11-1-3 (1st in MJHL)
Goals for: 249 (1st in MJHL)
Goals against: 163 (4th in MJHL)
Power play: 63 for 266 (23.7% – 2nd in MJHL)
Penalty killing: 211 of 285 (1st in MJHL)
Longest winning streak: 10 (Feb. 8-March 8)

Top 3 scorers:
• Ryan Botterill – 45G 28A 73P (2nd in MJHL)
• Austin Peters –20G 42A 62P (8th in MJHL)
• Hayden Lacquette – 15G 39A 54P (19th in MJHL)


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